Sandra Mileikyte
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Things I've learnt at JustGiving

Exactly one month ago I've resigned from my full-time Lead UX Designer job at JustGiving determined to experience the freelancer world. Looking back, I can say that I had a great year at JustGiving and I'd like to highlight the key lessons I've learnt in this article.


Don’t leave a meeting room without reaching a consensus

This is my key takeaway and applies to any project you work on, no matter if you’re a designer or a developer. Reach a joint agreement with all project stakeholders to avoid unpleasant surprises later in the project. It sounds like a ‘no-brainer’, but when my colleague (yes, that’s you Michael Whelan — thank you!) showed me a slide with this image, I burst out laughing:


It was a phenomenon I experienced almost everywhere I worked and I realised that it is up to me as a lead designer to ensure the project is delivered as seamlessly as possible. Avoid the “oh” moment at all costs.

Work as a team and use each other’s strengths

Sorry to disappoint, but there is no such thing as all singing and dancing unicorn product designer. You are either really good in one area or mediocre at a few — you choose. I thrive at discovery stage, ideating, sketching, designing experiences, testing them, but when it comes to crafting pixels to produce beautiful interfaces, that unfortunately isn’t my strength. And that’s cool because if you work as a team, you’ll use each other’s strengths. Hats off to you Mr Will Colley for rocking the Willandra thing.

Have to compromise? Find the right balance

Let’s be honest, as UX designers we have to compromise all the time. Be it due to project timings or resources or something completely different. Your job is to find the right balance between users’ needs and business requirements. And make sure all project stakeholders understand the importance of that.

Be inclusive

Discovery phase is not only for designers. Involve stakeholders, share ideas with your teammates, do workshops with colleagues who aren’t involved in the project — that’s a valuable resource to collect insights and advocate for design thinking. You’ll be appreciated!

Never stop learning

Take every opportunity to learn. And I’m not only talking about design skills, work on your soft skills too. Learn from your colleagues and your boss. Show your enthusiasm, ask for catch-ups over coffee, stop them after a meeting — I’ve never heard anyone complain about someone being genuinely interested in them. Use that opportunity! I had plenty of them at JustGiving and that’s why I feel that during almost a year I’ve been on quite a learning journey. Thank you, Rob Edwards for being such an approachable and cool boss!

So what’s next for me?

I'm very pleased to say that I will be joining Deutsche Bank Asset Management Group, where I'll be working as a UX Architect on some really interesting innovation projects. Watch this space.